Republicans appeased extremists – and now they’re paying the price (Opinion)

Ryan, a good friend with whom I served in Congress and who is passionately devoted to conservative ideals in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and his mentor, Jack Kemp, has stated many difficult truths that speak to the heartbreaking experience of the presidency of Donald Trump and the state of the GOP now.

“It was horrible to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and shameful end … we Conservatives stand at a crossroads and this is the reality we have to face. Whether the Conservative cause depends on populist allure of a second-rate personality or imitations, then we’re not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence in courage. They won’t be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago, “he mentioned.

I agree with everything Ryan has said. Strong words, of course.

What worried me most about so many mainstream conservatives during the Trump presidency was not their words but their silence and lack of meaningful action to resist the unprincipled crony urged by the former president when they controlled the levers of power. We were often told then of the need to work with President Trump and quietly persuade him behind the scenes to challenge or redirect his worst impulses. I never bought into this way of thinking.

Given Trump’s assault on GOP fundamentals, the futility of behind-the-scenes diplomacy represented a small loophole that made me and others question the dedication of many mainstream conservatives to ideals. and the values ​​they had so often defended and embraced.

Take free trade as an example of a conservative surrender to Trump. Republicans like me have for years encouraged open markets through bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. When Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in 2018 (which were lifted a year later) in the name of national security, I suggested blocking it by demanding a vote from Congress to approve these tariffs, which are taxes paid by US consumers and businesses.
My calls were greeted by crickets, although few of my co-workers disagreed with my remedy. Somehow it was better to insult America’s closest friend and ally than to upset the mercurial president. This pattern of Trump’s trampling on traditional GOP beliefs has manifested itself in other ways on issues such as reducing US financial contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), showing a soft spot for Russia and its authoritarian ruler, national security and the broader role of government. , like ignoring budget cuts. If a Democratic president had proposed such reckless policies, a GOP congress would have set itself on fire in the opposition.

This kind of weakness, not speaking out publicly and the lack of legislative action on substantive political issues has created a political vacuum for extreme voices like representatives. Gaetz and Greene, who gained a foothold in the GOP with their politics of grievances, conspiracy theories, nativism, nihilism and dishonesty. We are now living with the consequences.

Owning the libs, complaining about transgender people in women’s sports, promoting the discredited stolen election lie and, above all, pledging to be loyal to Trump have emboldened the extremists and given voice to their nutcase.

As a former chairman of the House Ethics Committee, I can assure you that there was a time when members of Congress like Gaetz and Greene, who became embarrassing distractions, hid from public view and were often forced to resign to avoid shaming themselves and their families. and constituents. Now these members despicably monetize their notoriety by claiming victim status and relentless witch hunts in the media. So much for maintaining standards of conduct.

Ryan rightly took some action to tackle grievances and identity politics when he said, “Our party needs to be defined by more than a brawl over the last grievance or a slight perception. We must not let them. take precedence over solutions based in principle to improve people’s lives, because politics based on race or other identity is always a path to deeper and deeper hostility, with sad and harmful consequences, and it is precisely the opposite of conservative thinking. Today too many right-wing people are in love with identity politics in one way or another. which are antithetical to Reagan’s conservatism. “

I only wish Ryan would push back harder when he got the hammer. In his remarks in California, there was no mention of any GOP leaders currently in the trenches, such as his friend and mentor, Sen. Mitt Romney, and Reps. Lis Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Peter Meijer, John Katko and others who relentlessly catch fire from the dark forces. too dominant in the party and enraged by the impeachment votes of these courageous members.

I hope my friend Paul Ryan will use his position on the board of directors of Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, to address the issues he has raised in California and to remove those who promote the platform from the platform. ugly policy which he so vigorously condemned.

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